Low Birthrate 'Will Mean Shortage of Soldiers'

      November 21, 2012 13:22

      Korea will face a shortage of 84,000 military personnel by 2030 and 123,000 by 2050 due to the low birthrate, the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs forecast Tuesday.

      The institute predicts that at the current rate the population will peak at 52.16 million in 2030 and dwindle to 48.12 million by 2050.

      In order to maintain military manpower at the current level of 650,000, the government needs to recruit 276,000 people every year. This would result in shortage of 30 percent in 2030 and 45 percent in 2050.

      On the other hand, the elderly population will increase to 12.69 million in 2030, occupying 24 percent of the total population. The proportion will further expand to 40.1 percent by 2060 with 16.62 million.

      The number of schoolchildren will drop to half of the current number by 2050, from 10.01 million in 2010 to 7.11 million in 2030 and 5.62 million in 2050.

      Even if the classroom sizes shrink to the OECD average of 21 to 23 pupils per classroom, there will be 2,171 schools in 2030 which will see no new students, and 4,044 in 2050. Currently, there is an average of 27 to 34 students per classroom in Korea.

      There are 15 to 19 students per teacher in Korea at the moment, and if the figure drops to the OECD average of 12 to 16 students per teacher, there will be demand for only 318,000 teachers, 85,000 fewer than at present.

      "The decreasing birthrate is a global phenomenon, but Korea's rate fell more steeply than elsewhere, from 6 in 1960 to 1.23 in 2010, which has led to a generational fault," an institute spokesman said. "Also, what is unique to the Korean situation is that the very low birthrate of under 1.3 has continued for over 10 years."

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